On the Caribbean isle of St. Lucia, the IT infrastructure is strengthening. An improved communications and health care system has helped, coupled with the sovereign island country’s new e-filing tax system. St. Lucia’s also benefitted from World Bank-funded economic development projects designed to help the island recover from 2010’s Hurricane Tomas.
In the capital city of Castries, Linus Charles and partner Kerie Dantes are determined to take advantage of this tech revolution. “St. Lucia is in the stage of building and accepting IT technologies,” said Charles, managing director of their training center, Computer Networking and Security Services Inc. (CNSS). “We need to have certified individuals in the market.”
Founded in November 2011, CNSS is the only CompTIA-authorized training partner on the island, and, in April 2013, CNSS students became the first formal class to study for and pass the CompTIA A+ 800 Series exams — not only in St. Lucia, but in all of the Caribbean. Since then, another CNSS class followed suit and passed the A+ exams.
One of CNSS’ A+ graduates was Micha Joseph, who said earning A+ certification had many benefits both personally and professionally. “The training has improved my competency and knowledge in operating systems and technologies,” said Joseph, who holds a bachelor’s of science degree in computing and works as the IT and communications manager at St. Lucia Representative Services Ltd.
“I needed to prove that I have the skills and knowledge to support the company’s hardware and software infrastructure now and in the future,” she said.
Theodore Kennedy Francis, chief of St. Lucia’s Port Police, earned his CompTIA A+ certification at CNSS to help strengthen his IT knowledge and skills.
“It’s very important for me to understand fully how those systems work,” he said. The security at two airports and two seaports in St. Lucia involve multiple IT and CCTV surveillance systems.
The CNSS A+ course gave him the “hands-on and real-time knowledge that I can use for my benefit almost instantly in the work field,” he said, “so when I deal with my technicians, I’m in a better position to understand the information they give to me, and I’m also in a better position to tell them exactly what I want.”
Francis also expects that his A+ will assist his plans to launch a consulting business that will leverage his 30 years in the aviation and maritime security industry. “I’m really going to be in position where I can sell systems and products from very technical standpoint,” he said.
Their Students Do More Than Attend Class
The certified instructors at CNSS — plus its 12-computer laboratory — helps St. Lucia’s IT pros gain training for exams from not only CompTIA, but also from Cisco, Microsoft, E.C. Council and computerized accounting software companies such as Intuit. Its testing center delivers exams via Pearson VUE and Prometric. (Separate from training delivery, CNSS also offers computer services and solutions.)
Charles holds six CompTIA certifications, from A+ to CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner and the CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) credential. He also holds numerous certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and the E.C. Council. “Working in the IT industry, you need to get yourself certified,” said Charles, adding that IT job applicants have to be able to prove their skills. “With certifications you are not confined to working in one geographic location.”
CNSS very intentionally bundles the cost of its certification training and training materials with exam vouchers. “What we offer is an all-inclusive package,” said Charles, noting that many training companies charge for tuition but do nothing to help students take the exams.“I know lots of people who say, ‘I’ve done the A+ course, I’ve done the Network+,’ but you ask them, ‘Are you certified?’ and they’ll tell you ‘No,’” Charles said. “At CNSS, we actually direct them in the path of actually becoming certified. We are in favor of the betterment of our students.”